Garden City, NY (Feb. 16, 2017) - After 11 seasons in Major League Lacrosse, the New York Lizards have announced that face off specialist Greg Gurenlian will retire after the 2017 season.
Nicknamed “Beast,” Gurenlian will go down as the all-time greatest face off specialist to ever play in the MLL. He currently holds the league record for most career face off wins with 1,797. In 2015, Gurenlian was awarded the MLL Most Valuable Player of the Year, the first in league history to win the award as a face off athlete. He secured 299 out of 412 face offs that season, marking him at just over a 72 percent clip. That was just one of the few accolades Gurenlian was able to accomplish in 2015. He also was named to the MLL All-Team, the MLL All-Star Team, 2015 FOAthlete of the Year and 2015 USL/MLL Sportsmanship Player of the Year.
In 2016, Gurenlian continued his strong play, racking up 143 ground balls and an additional 15 ground balls in their sole playoff game. He was once again named an MLL All-Star, his third of his career, and second consecutive. He also took home FOAthlete of the Year.
Gurenlian is no stranger to the FOAthlete of the Year award, receiving the honor three times. He also added a silver medal in 2014 in the FIL World Lacrosse Championship with Team USA.
The Lizards drafted Gurenlian in the 2010 Supplemental Draft where he played in 10 games in his first season. His next season was followed by heartbreak after he suffered a season ending knee injury just three games in.
He came back in 2012 dominating the league and posting career highs in almost every face off category. He was all over the field, scooping up 124 ground balls, second most in a single season. That same season, he won 230 face offs, seventh all-time in single season history. Gurenlian would later go on to break his ground balls record in 2015 when he recorded 175, a single season league high.
“Playing in the MLL has been an honor of a lifetime. To play this sport at the highest level and be successful has been an amazing rush,” said Gurenlian. “I am eternally grateful to Jim Mule and Joe Spallina for taking a chance on me and picking me up in 2009. Playing for the Lizards organization has been a blessing.”
Gurenlian’s name is commonplace in almost every MLL record book, but not enough can be said about his locker room presence and team charisma. In his seven seasons with the Lizards, Greg has become a mentor and team leader to a lot of the younger players on the team. In 2015, his on-field explosion turned heads around the league, while also giving the Lizards the extra boost to bring home the championship.
After the championship, Gurenlian gave back to the fans. In a short letter to them, he explained his gratitude for the fans of New York and their support. He wrote, “the fans that said ‘thank you’ even after harsh losses, because you’ve always known that when I put on my jersey I give you absolutely everything that I have…this one’s for YOU!”
“From the time our group got involved with the Lizards back in 2012, Greg has continually been the ultimate leader on and off the field. He will be truly missed, but I know that Greg will be very focused on winning in 2017 and do everything in his power to go out with another MLL championship,” said Lizards CEO, Jeffrey Rudnick.
Face offs continue to be one of the most important aspects in the MLL. Gurenlian’s dominance at the position has translated into clear improved results for the Lizards. His influence on the team has also made a huge impact on the entirety of the MLL.
Some might say Gurenlian has pioneered the face off position for the better and for the future. In 2012 he created “The Faceoff Academy,” an institution designed to improve lacrosse skills in thousands of youths across the nation while also specializing specifically in dominating the face off position. He continues to team up with several players from around the league to run the institution each year, including teammate and co-founder Jerry Ragonese.
Gurenlian continued, “I am not retiring from lacrosse. When I walk off the field in August, I will close the MLL playing chapter of my life. I will be totally focused on my role with Team USA and as a coach for the FaceOff Academy. But I look forward to being around more often in the summers for my wife and new son. Jackson deserves a Dad who is around to help him grow and Jenny deserves a husband year round.”
Gurenlian’s focus now shifts toward making his upcoming season the best one yet. Greg will play his final season home opener on April 29
th when the Denver Outlaws come to New York.
New York Lizards Season Tickets and Single Game Tickets are now available. For more information call 1-855-NYLizards.